Education

BG school levy fails; board ponders next attempt

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green school officials were disappointed but not dissuaded by Tuesday’s defeat of the 6-mill levy for school buildings. The levy was rejected by a vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “I feel bad for the kids. I feel bad for the staff. I feel bad for the community,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said as he stood surrounded by levy supporters as the election results came in. But Scruci and the school board don’t plan to waste much time moaning about the loss. They have some decisions to make. Do they go back on the ballot in May or November? Or do they try to patch up buildings with permanent improvement funds and add more modular classrooms? “We’re not going to stop doing what’s right for kids,” Scruci said. “We’re disappointed this is 20 months of work that came down to one day,” he said. The 6-mill levy, lasting 37 years, would have raised $72 million for buildings. The plan was to consolidate the three elementaries into one centralized building, and to renovate and add new sections to the high school. The levy failure was not due to lack of communication, since Scruci made nearly 100 presentations on the levy and building plans since September. However, in the last couple weeks, opposition to the levy came out with “a lot of misinformation” that didn’t help, he said. The superintendent had said that if the levy failed, the district would come back next year with the same proposal – since it is the best plan to meet the needs of the students. The school board members seemed to support that plan….


BGHS Drama Club nominated for Liberator award for raising awareness of sex trafficking

The Bowling Green High School Drama Club has been nominated for a Ohio/Michigan Liberator Award for its work raising awareness of sex trafficking. The troupe is nominated in the Student/Student Group category. The award, named for the historic abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, is given out by the national organization Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. The drama club has been working to raise awareness of the issue for five years. Recently the club presented “Lily’s Shadow,” a play written by Roxanne Schroeder-Arce in collaboration with students. The Social Issues Theatre Class had been working on raising social awareness for sex trafficking since 2012, presenting play the cast devised at more than a dozen conferences in the region. The BGHS club is one of nine nominees from the two states. To vote visit https://www.liberatorawards.com/#vote. Voting continues through the end of the month. (Read story on production)


BG Schools takes drudgery out of math, science & tech

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a few hours last month, the gym at Conneaut Elementary School was transformed into a wetlands, prairie, woodland and river. For one day last week, all of Bowling Green’s fourth graders took part in the BG Math Invasion 2017. And every week, girls are beating the odds by joining the “Girls Who Code” program held after school every Monday. This is science, math and technology being made fun. “They are really into it,” Nichole Simonis, fifth grade science and reading teacher at Conneaut said about the COSI on Wheels program. “They are so excited about science. They were talking about it all morning. They saw the COSI truck and started cheering.” The COSI visit was funded by an anonymous donor, Simonis said. This was not a typical science lesson, nor a typical science teacher. With her portable mic on her head, Alex Wilkins quickly paced around the gym and fired off questions to the kids about ecology, habitats, and food chains. In the prairie setting, one student was decked out with wings and fuzzy feet and told to “be a bumble bee.” She slurped the nectar off one flower and shared it with another. They talked about seeds. “So seeds don’t have legs. I’ve been walking all over this gym, but seeds can’t do that,” Wilkins said. So another student came up to turn on a giant fan to blow seeds across the gym. They talked about other seed options – like burrs sticking to pant legs. “That’s seeds being really sneaky,” Wilkins said. Then came the topic that triggered giggling among the students. Seeds also travel to other sites when…


BG school officials hear levy is too taxing for farmers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Besides agreeing that kids need good schools, there seemed to be little common ground plowed Wednesday evening when a local farmer met with Bowling Green City School officials, teachers, parents and community leaders. After helping to send out 5,000 mailers to district voters, urging them to vote against the school levy, Richard Chamberlain was asked to attend one of the superintendent’s coffee chats Wednesday evening. Chamberlain came armed with a stack of property tax bills. Chamberlain said the 6-mill school levy is putting the bulk of the burden on farmers. School officials said they are trying to give students the schools they need to succeed – and a property tax is their only option. Superintendent Francis Scruci explained the school building project to Chamberlain, showing him the charts that he carries everywhere. Plans call for the consolidation of the three elementaries on property north of the middle school, and for renovations and an addition to the high school. “I appreciate it,” Chamberlain said. But it’s the way the project is being funded that doesn’t sit well with the farmer. “You would be more than willing to push the burden for this great project onto the few,” he said. After the meeting, Chamberlain said all he wanted was school officials to admit they were unfairly putting the millage on the backs of the farming community. But Scruci and High School Principal Jeff Dever said the district needs new schools, and the state legislature has left them with no other options for funding. “We want to improve the education for the children, and we’re doing it under Ohio law,” Dever said. “We’re just trying…


Resident outlines reasons to oppose school bond issue

Why I’m voting No for the School Levy.(grab a tv dinner and have a seat, This is long and your local farmer will be bankrupt when this levy passes) If you read nothing else…  read a copy of the Facilities Report done for each school (it is interesting, rates each building and details) – in summary, cost to renovate Kenwood $6,884,389.41Crim renovation $2,352,490.52, Conneaut renovation $8,246,096.24, BGMS renovation $2,347,767.79, BGHS renovation $23,770,311.45(quick math-non common core- $20Mil before adding the High School, so $44Mil) If you keep reading, remember that number.(off topic, where’s our extra million we were given in 2015 that no one can account for or why we went from excellent with distinguighment to C/D’s on report cards… jw) We should be considerate of farmers, because, well I’m not a skinny chick who doesn’t like to eat, so I need farmers… cattle, pig, chickens, corn and the other healthy stuff you probably eat and I should eat. Yes Mom I’m eating my veggies! Farm tax has increased almost 300% in FIVE YEARS! Agriculture will carry a HUGE BURDEN with this tax. THESE FARMERS, if they don’t go bankrupt, will now charge $1/tomato vs 3/$1, corn will be 2/$1 vs 8/$1, peppers, zucchini, beef, chicken, etc… we are a small town who support local. If I eat out, I hit a LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANT, now let’s support our local farmers. WE ALL NEED FOOD!Look at all the kids who have free/reduced lunches, look at those who are barely making it and need that free breakfast/lunch (at, Crim?) for help with 1-2 meals a day. Income -BG’s median housing cost is $154,000 (levy flyer used$100k)-Perrysburg’s median income is $75k, BG’s is $33k(Crim gets free breakfast…


Anti-abortion protesters picket outside BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As students left Bowling Green High School on Wednesday afternoon, they were met by anti-abortion protesters with graphic photos of aborted fetuses. Principal Jeff Dever said the protesters showed up with no notice to the school district. “I didn’t want those people there, especially with the kids,” Dever said this morning. “Some kids were afraid to go past them.” However, the six protesters stayed on the sidewalk along West Poe Road – “which is a public space,” he said. Bowling Green police responded, and along with Dever, talked with the protesters and advised them to stay off school property and not go past the public sidewalk. Dever said he asked one of the protesters why they would want juveniles to see the graphic images. The protester reportedly told Dever that he first saw such photographs of abortions when he was 6 years old. “Shame on your parents,” the principal said he responded to the protester. The anti-abortion group was reportedly at Bowling Green State University earlier in the day, then moved over to the high school in time for school dismissal. There remained there from about 2:15 to 3 p.m. “The bad thing was it scared the kids. They were spooked about walking through,” Dever said. “It kind of stunk. They shouldn’t do that.” Some other students were angered by the protesters, the principal said. “We had kids who wanted to argue with them.” According to Dever, this is the first time anti-abortion protesters have taken up space in front of the school. He’s hoping it’s the last. “I don’t want schools to become battle grounds for national issues,” he said. “It…


Flyers attacking BG school levy full of misinformation, Scruci says

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Another flyer has been delivered to Bowling Green City School District voters, trying to convince them to vote against the school building tax issue on the Nov. 7 ballot. This mailer, sent out by a newly-minted group called Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, criticizes the size of the 6-mill school levy, the plans for consolidation and the management of district funds. One week before the election, Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci is again defending the levy as necessary for the district. “From day one, we’ve tried to give out as much factual information as we can,” he said. For the second time, the district has been targeted by flyers warning people about the levy. The problem, Scruci said, is that both have been riddled with misinformation. The first mailer, sent out by a Bowling Green businessman, included incorrect tax numbers. This second one, which showed up in mailboxes on Monday, has “blatant disregard for the numbers,” Scruci said. The flyer warns of decreased business growth due to taxes, and increased crime in the schools due to consolidation. “We’ve stuck to the facts from day one,” Scruci said. “This is discouraging. For the second time we are dealing with a group of people trying to scare our taxpayers.” The flyer includes charts comparing local district school funding to state school funding. “As you can see the good property owners of Bowling Green pay more than their fair share to support this school system,” the mailer states. The problem is, Scruci pointed out, that the pie chart does not show the state average as the flyer claims. Instead, it shows the state…


BG Chamber: “Bowling Green district must expand, renovate and modernize its facilities”

The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to endorse the upcoming Bowling Green City Schools Bond Issue and the Wood County Job & Family Services Human Services 1.3M Renewal Levy.  The high quality of life in the Bowling Green area is directly supported by the quality of our city schools and by the important services provided by the WCJFS. There are hundreds of articles stating how quality schools are an economic development driver. Communities wanting to retain and attract new economic development projects should know that corporate decision makers look hard at the local school systems. Do they provide a quality education?  Is the school competitive in the use of technology and facilities?  Will the school produce a future quality workforce?  Passage of the bond would make us more competitive with neighboring school districts, vastly improve technological instruction and classrooms, and would show our youth how much we value their education. There’s no question that the Bowling Green district must expand, renovate and modernize its facilities. The price tag will never be any cheaper than it is today. This project will create the best learning environment and opportunities for our youth.  The School Bond Issue is the opportune time for BG citizens to invest in our community and our future. The Wood County Human Services Levy is not a new tax, it is a 1.3M renewal. As a community, we need to be aware the renewal would ensure the support of investigating reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, provide homemaker services to senior citizens, and fund the work being done for families/individuals where Opioid abuse has contributed to the increase…


Treehouse Troupe takes “New Kid” on the road to share lessons about tolerance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bullying is an international language. That’s a lesson Nic learns on her first day in an American school. She had moved with her family to the United States from Homeland, not speaking English, and now she must adjust to life among strangers. That’s the plot of “New Kid,” a play by Dennis Foon being staged in schools around the region by Bowling Green State University’s Treehouse Troupe. Recently the troupe staged “New Kid” in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library for home-schooled students and students from St. Aloysius. We meet Nic played by Shannan Bingham and her mother played by Kristyn Curnow as they discuss leaving their country Homeland. The backdrop is colorful and their costumes are an iridescent green. Though they say they don’t know English, their lines come out as English, and the audience knows what they are saying. Soon Nic is in her new school, shyly joining two other students, Mencha (Autumn Chisholm) and Mug (Harmon Andrews) at recess. Before she comes out the audience gets to listen in on Mencha and Mug’s conversation. Not that it will do them any good. They’re animated as they chat but the words frustrate comprehension. Clearly it’s a language, just not one we understand. Nor as it turns out any other language. The actors’ body gestures, make it clear that they are negotiating some sort of exchange. The language was made up by the playwright to give youngsters a sense of what it’s like to be in a place where you can’t understand what anyone else is saying. Nic has a rough time. Mug starts by teasing and then taunts her, even breaking…


BG will not regret funding new school: Adrian and Margo Smith

This past summer my wife and I decided on our new adventure. After 35 years in BG raising five children and teaching in the BG district, we uprooted and landed in Southern Ohio, Brown County, about an hour east of Cincinnati. Mostly rural and not wealthy by any means, there is one thing that stands out to Margo and I from our day trips – the local schools. From Georgetown to Ripley to West Union, Mt Orab, Wilmington, Hillsboro, Blanchester, Peebles, Winchester, Aberdeen, etc ALL of the school buildings are new and almost all are campuses. Most, unlike BG ,received extensive state funding due to the economics down here, but, more heartwarming are the local attitudes to their schools. There seems to be a special community pride for them and more often than not the schools are a hub for local activity. Now I know it is said by some that new buildings don’t insure better education but I can tell you from empirical observation that they have greatly helped the state of education down here. We continue to wish you and all of our friends a hopeful positive levy vote – the community will not regret it. Adrian and Margo Smith


Wood County honors citizens for their contributions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The best of Wood County was honored on Sunday. Farmers who help educate city folks about agriculture. Pastors who build bridges, not walls. And a retired teacher who is still committed to learning, even if that means going to a “Godzilla” movie. Wood County commissioners Doris Herringshaw and Ted Bowlus led off the 2017 Spirit of Wood County Awards in the courthouse atrium. Following is the list of people recognized in each category: Agricultural leadership: Cathy Newlove Wenig, Gordon Wenig, Paul Herringshaw and Lesley Riker. Liberty through law/human freedom: Dan Van Vorhis. Self-government: Tim W. Brown. Education for Civic Responsibility: Mary Kuhlman. Religion and liberty: Revs. Mary Jane and Gary Saunders. Industrial/economic development: Barbara Rothrock. Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award: Gwen Andrix and Amy Holland. “This is one of those things that Wood County does especially well,” said State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, about the recognition of community service by citizens. The agricultural leadership award was presented by Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. For the last 12 years of the BG Leadership program, the Wenigs, Herringshaw and Riker have welcomed city business people on their farms. The day is a “real and powerful opportunity to educate citizens,” Kilpatrick said. “And we end up smelling like a farm at the end of the day.” “What an amazing experience for each class,” to learn about Wood County’s leading industry, she said. Initially the farm day consisted of simple drive-by tours. But now the participants visit ag co-ops, learn about soil content management and seed purchasing, and see a high-tech dairy operation and show pigs. “They educate…


BG School’s 5-year financial forecast holding steady

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education was dazzled by math skills Tuesday evening – first by a couple elementary students, then by the district treasurer. Conneaut fourth grader Hayden Feehan and second grader Simran Gandhi impressed the board by demonstrating a new math program that helps kids learn number reasoning – all while making it fun. Unlike the monotony of flashcards, the computerized games allow the students to work at their own speed. “As you can see, the students catch on real quickly,” Conneaut principal Jim Lang said, noting that second graders like Simran are already doing multiplication. Then came the big numbers. Treasurer Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring later this year, presented her last five-year forecast to the board. When she started as school treasurer in 1995, the forecasts weren’t required. That changed in 1997, when the state started mandating the glimpses into the future. “It’s a snapshot in time – what we know when it is prepared,” Melchi told the board of the forecast for 2018 to 2022. “That’s a little scary, isn’t it.” The state’s biennial budget offered no surprises, she said. “As predicted, Bowling Green’s budget will remain stable for the next two years,” Melchi said. No big changes are expected in personnel or insurance costs, she added. This year was a little tricky because the number of employee paydays was 27, rather than the norm of 26. Looking ahead to 2021, the treasurer said the district will need renewal of its 4.2-mill levy. Melchi told the board she took a conservative approach. “It’s not overly optimistic, but it’s not worst case scenario either,” she said. She cautioned that…


“It’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings”

Voters will be asked on November 7 to support a bond request to construct a new consolidated elementary school, as well as to significantly renovate the high school.  Much thought and study by our school leaders, as well as considerable citizen input, have gone into this request, and it is not being made without good cause.  Although a cursory drive-by of our current elementary and high school buildings might suggest that they are in acceptable shape, a closer examination – even a brief walk through any of the buildings, for example – will demonstrate that this is far from the case.  The buildings have long outlived their usefulness, and in their current condition are not conducive to teaching and learning.  Our teachers and students have done a good job of making due with patch worked buildings for several years now, but we have reached the point of diminishing returns.  The current buildings have become like that old car many of us have kept a little too long – in dire need of repair after repair, with no end in sight.  And just as we know when it’s time to trade in that old clunker that is nickel and diming us to death, it’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings. Bowling Green voters have long displayed a strong commitment to education.  This support has produced an outstanding school system that benefits all of us, whether we have school-aged children and grandchildren or not.  A strong school system with up-to-date facilities attracts individuals and businesses to the community and keeps them here, and it enhances property values for everyone.   But if we allow our buildings to…


Horizon Youth youngsters tune into absurd comedy with “Magic Harmonica”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The stage manager in Horizon Youth Theatre’s production of “The Magic Harmonica and Other Fanciful Tales” has problems keeping her cast in line. They always want to veer away from the script. Officious, and controlling, the stage manager played Kaitlyn Valantine is not above yanking one narrator for another when they displease her. What she can’t control is the way the playwright Janet Layberry also has a mind of her own. These four one-act plays within a play all employ the tropes of fairy tales, but do so in absurd and comic ways. “The Magic Harmonica” is on stage at the Otsego High auditorium Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Visit www.horizonyouththeatre.org/product/harmonica. The play uses the troupe’s younger cohort of actors, ages 6 through 12, but there seem few concessions to age. The humor is at times intentionally juvenile, often involving grade school word play. Nobody delivers those jokes better than an actual grade schooler. Sometimes the humor seems pitched to the parents, as when Michelle (Calista Wilkins) in “The Woobly Fiasco” tells the enchanted prince carrying an outsized sword: “People haven’t used swords for ages, now they have … lawyers.” And then there’s the jester played by Liam Rogel who trades in absurdist non-sequiturs. Each story has lessons here but they spare us the morals and never let messages get in the way of a good time. The first of the four plays, “You Call That a Bedmonster?” is a typical fairy tale set up. Here we have a princess (Addie Smith) upset by a monster, except what troubles her is that this monster, Humphrey…


BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed how to measure the gases in the bags of beans….